Health Sickness and Wealth Poverty Gospel
The infamous word/faith movement along with its closely related health and wealth Gospel has always irritated me. Being a former attendee of the Assemblies of God, I was always disturbed by the fact that both of these heresies frequently found comfortable and welcoming homes in our denomination. Truly, it is only in America that such a demonic theology could have evolved…it is the culminating bastard child of western individualistic philosophy and Christianity having gotten into bed with one another some 500 years ago. You can even see it beginning to rear its ugly head in some of America’s earliest political documents – which as we all know are decidedly Christian documents, right? Let’s face it, you see nothing of this sort of doctrine – nothing remotely close – in the early church. Of course, this might have been because the Christians back then were busy being utilized as torches for night lighting, sown into bags with wild animals, or perhaps being pan-fried. Ahhh…but the luxuries and leisure friendly world we live in today has given us pause to think: Hey, this is God blessing us for our faithfulness!
Or has He abandoned us?
My wife spent this last weekend at the Northwest Deanery Women’s Retreat and had the opportunity to hear Mother Christophora speak. As my wife related her experiences I was pretty deeply moved. Mother Christophora is from the old country (as they say) and so she brings to us Americans a rather broader perspective on our Orthodox faith – and indeed on life in general. One amusing anecdotal incident took place in which the Abbess had to ask for clarification because she’d never heard the term “multi-tasking” before, and upon hearing the definition was further compelled to ask/exclaim: “And do they pay you extra for that?!?”
Anyway, a good portion of what the Mother had to say was in regard to pain and suffering, which of course are not topics that we American’s perceive as being very positive things, but for most of the world they are very much more apart of their everyday existence. As such, it is frequently understood to be the disciplining hand of God.
A story related to the women at the retreat (and now being paraphrased and re-related by yours truly) involved a woman entering a Church and crying profusely in the back of the nave. When a priest sought to inquire what was vexing her (Had someone died? Was the family out of money and had no food? Was a child terribly sick?), the woman denied any of the terrible calamities that might befall us in this life. “Father,” she wept, “it has been three years since we have had any suffering. Three years! No deaths and no illness of any kind, our business is successful and we live in relative comfort. But Father, my family is growing lax and I am afraid that God has abandoned us! I’m afraid my family will perish!”
America is the light on the hilltop…the crescendo that all the world’s symphonies are trying to reach. Has not the Gospel taught us the folly in this? The real light on the hilltop is found in the soul of a humble elderly Bishop who wrote to Mother Christophora saying: “My kidneys are failing, my heart is bad. I’m so thankful that God has not forgotten me.”
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:01 AM [+]